Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bills From Last Night: No Pants on the Ground, Riding in Cars With Animals, Etc.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 3, 2012 at 9:16 AM

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We're sad to report that before we all rushed off to watch the NCAA men's championship last night, the legislature did some things. A few highlights from last night's Senate and House floor sessions :

No Pants on the Ground: After passing the Senate unanimously as part of the consent calendar, Memphis Rep. Joe Towns' so-called "Saggy Pants" bill passed in the House by a vote of 81-9. The bill requires local education agencies to include in their student discipline codes a prohibition against students wearing "clothing that exposes underwear or body parts in an indecent manner that disrupts the learning environment."

Stamping out the scourge of saggy pants has become something of a mission for Towns. In the past he's even proposed fining people for letting their pants hang low in public. The only bit of discussion before the vote last night came from another Memphis Democrat, Rep. Antonio Parkinson, who applauded Towns for bringing the bill, but lamented its narrow scope. He said the prohibition should be statewide and vowed to join Towns in working toward that end next year. The AP reports that Tennessee now joins Arkansas and Floridas the only states who feel it's necessary to issue such an edict.

Riding in Cars with Animals: Although there was no debate on the floor before the House voted on a measure to prohibit animals in a driver's lap while the car is in motion (making it a Class C misdemeanor), you could see the bewilderment on a few legislators' faces when it passed 58-30, with five members not voting. Perhaps they were confused because the bill they just passed might actually have a proportional affect on them. As if more proof were needed that legislators feel a little too comfortable on the Hill, a decent amount of the bunch actually bring their dogs to work with them regularly, much to the displeasure of some of their colleagues.

All the Teachers Fit To Teach: After another lengthy debate on the matter, the Senate passed a bill that would require the state Department of Education to issue a license to teach to anyone who has taught full-time for two years, or part-time for four years at a college or university. The proposal provoked a heated debate when it first appeared on the floor two weeks ago. Monday night, Sen. Roy Herron made impassioned arguments for a slew of amendments intended to slow the rubber-stamping of thousands of new teacher licenses, all of which were tabled. One relatively minor amendment, which would make a professor's disciplinary history a consideration in the process, was adopted, and the bill eventually passed 19-13. The House version of the bill is scheduled to come up in the Education Committee later today.

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